When my friends asked me what mistakes people make in leadership roles, one example jumped to the fore – ‘Donald Trump.’ Observing Trump is like watching a train sadly smash in slow motion. He illustrates the first two top leadership mistakes. The remaining one comes from cases closer to home.
- Blunder 1: I’m always right, and you’re forever wrong. ‘Donald Trump’ is a highly passionate and driven leader with the sole purpose of helping his country prosper. There are two main problems with his focus: the first is that he is so single-minded that he becomes a cyclopse in any debate. No matter what different viewpoint is presented, if it doesn’t fit his version of the world, it’s just wrong. As soon as you believe in something like that, you ruin any chance of respectful, collaborative discussion, miss the opportunity of touching the collective genius, and antagonize potential supporters. Your credibility as a head turns to ash, and new notoriety as a bully jumps in to play.
The second problem with Donald Trump’s approach is that by advocating against corruption, she helps perpetuate it. If you push against anything, you help magnify it – what we resist persists, what we concentrate on expands.
It would be way better to advocate for something. For instance, advocate for health (not against disease), advocate for peace (not against war), advocate for abundance and prosperity (not against poverty). All those wars on poverty, drugs, terrorism – all they do are prolong them by keeping their total attention on what is not wanted instead of what is wanted.
- Blunder 2: Taking your eye off your constructive critics. The constructive critics in your life are your key performance measures that show the health of your family, project, bank account, and how you are pursuing your goals. Again, Trump’s arrogant and reckless single-minded focus about the fairness of his purpose skewered his other leadership responsibilities: he made hasty decisions without considering the outcomes against the bottom-line.
Any decisions you make as a leader and as a group have multiple repercussions that aren’t linear but echo across different aspects of your firm or project. If you don’t take a proper strategic planning approach, you miss pitching your choices’ impact. Watching the critics – the trends of your performance standards – shows you whether or not you need to tweak the strategies you’ve implemented. Just like the adage – a butterfly flaps its wings and an earthquake results – is correct: everything is affected and connected by our actions. Using the thinking approach, you can see where your actions and interventions will leverage the best results. Sadly, Trump missed this premise.
- Blunder 3: Not moving on quickly. What has giving up and quitting have to do with modern-day leadership? Everything, if you’re running a losing battle. For me, this lesson was sadly hammered home when I was previously leading a regional community-based organization. I believed that the organization was failing in its objective, and if we didn’t change the focus and structure of the group, it would solely continue to struggle on, sapping the time, energy, and good-will of its members. I expedited a discussion around this issue with the leadership team, and many agreed the present situation was unsustainable. However, when it came to voting on changing the structure, fear of change prevailed, and the group decided to try harder to keep the status quo.
I saw myself out in front with no one behind – my team would not understand. It was my time to quit. But the actual lesson was this: I should have quit long before. Why? Not because my followers disagreed with my ideas, but for a far more fundamental reason. If I had done peculiar due diligence before I agreed to take the leadership role, I would have noticed that there was a real clash of values, vision, and purpose between the rest of the group and me. I realized too late.
But, what about you? Have you had an encounter where you transformed a group from the inside out? Or maybe you quit and began your own group? Are there any other leadership blunders you’ve seen (or made yourself) that would help others to know about?